Endurance at Abington

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This summer heat’s hard to endure so we’re going to tell you about a trip we took to nice shady cool Abington Art Center. Abington has this really great sculpture garden and generally we make that trip at least once a year. There’s a new show in the garden and woods that just opened and will be up through Nov. 30, Endurance: Visualizing Time.

David Shafer, Untitled Expression: How to Look at Sculpture, 11 min. audio, 2008
David Shafer, Untitled Expression: How to Look at Sculpture, 11 min. audio, 2008

The 6-artist show, which we saw with Abington Curator Sue Spaid, includes a couple of doozies, good doozies that is. Our favorite, it’s orange and arch, is by New York artist David Shafer. “Untitled Expression: How to Look at a Sculpture” looks at first blush like a Sol Lewitt. Bright orange sticks in a boxy Modernist configuration. But the piece is a sort of joke about Modernist sculpture. Topped by a megaphone, which emits an eleven-minute lecture on how to look at sculpture, the piece talks to you like Alistair Cookie Monster delivering a pompous talk about how to approach a sculpture. There’s classical music and all.

Abington Curator Sue Spain, standing in Caroline Lathan Staffel's piece in the woods.
Abington Curator Sue Spain, standing in Caroline Lathan-Stiefel's piece in the woods.

And here’s the kicker, Caroline Lathem Staffel, who was embellishing her piece in the woods from last year, was within earshot of the megaphone. She told us she quite enjoyed listening to Mr. Cookie Monster and agreed with a lot of his points. We also agreed with him, at the same time that we laughed out loud.

Foreground, Dillon and Paparone's Born to be Wild, 2008; Background, Knox Cummin's Habitation Suite: Cabin Van Gogh, 2007
Foreground, Dillon and Paparone's Born to be Wild, 2008; Background, Knox Cummin's Habitation Suite: Cabin Van Gogh, 2007

The pieces in Endurance share the space with some sculptures from previous years’ exhibits. So, for example, within spitting distance of Shafer’s piece is Jamie Dillon and Nick Paparone’s Born to be Wild from 2008, a King of the Hill sod-haired dirt mound with a bell on the top that’s almost as noisy. Run up the hill, ring the bell, and then run down. Repeat and enjoy.

On our way to the woods we passed by Knox Cummin’s Habitation Suite: Cabin Van Gogh, also a holdover from 2007. This sweet little playhouse with a bed and some chairs plays with perspective a la Van Gogh’s bedroom painting. It looks fresh as new and made us smile again.

Robert Geno, Energia and Dissenssus, 2009.  Wire, wood, soil, seed, cement
Robert Geno, Energia and Dissenssus, 2009. Wire, wood, soil, seed, cement

Back to Endurance. St. Louis artist Robert Gero’s Energia and Dissensus, with its sprouting limbs suggesting a shelter of sorts, reminded us of an Ewok village complete with mudpit floor and, we think, trolls hiding in the woods. The concept of embedding seeds into an architectural form becomes more and more popular. We chalk it up to eco-hysteria and people wanting to feed the birdies and replace the fading natural environment.

Others in the Endurance show are John Kalymnios, Stacy Levy, Winifred Lutz and Bill Shuck.

The Sculpture Garden is open daily dawn to dusk. Free. And Saturday and Sunday, free guided tours of the Sculpture Garden are at 11 am and 1 pm.

Tags

Abington Art Center, caroline lathan-stiefel, david shafer, endurance: visualizing time, jamie dillon, knox cummin, nick paparone, robert geno, sue spaid

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